Mhairi Owens

Mhairi Owens is a community worker living in Fife, Scotland. She tutors in Poetry with the University of St Andrews International Summer School and writes in both English and Scots. Her poems have appeared, or are pending publication, in various anthologies and journals, including Cyphers; Glasgow Review of Books; Ink, Sweat & Tears; Obsessed with Pipework; Poetry Salzburg Review; The North and The Rialto. Her poem ‘Shiftin’ won the 2019 Wigtown Prize, the first ever Scots entry to do so. Mhairi's first pamphlet of poems, mainly in English, is forthcoming from Knives, Forks and Spoons Press.

Photo of Mhairi Owens, in a stripy top and a leather jacket, on Castle Sands, with St Andrews Castle in the background

Photo: Ann Vance


Wigtown Poetry Prize Showcase »

Listen to winners and runners up from the biggest poetry competition in Scotland

Fri 6 March | 13:00 - 14:00 | £4.50/£3.50 | Parliament Hall, South Street


The Fish Farmer’s Wife

Wakening sightless,
crystalled lids and a sawn throat,
my skin too hot for the room,
My Beloved brought cool cloths
and if my eyes were cataracted,
after all, that first day,
I could navigate the redd we’d made.

Still blind next morning,
my mind rigged by drowning thirst,
I flexed from bed to couch to floor
in search of breath.
Then filled the bath cold.
And found when I submerged
repose at once.

Give it a couple of days he said,
Beloved Other, Half of Us.
And when I wouldn’t eat,
he brought, My Beloved,
a little lettuce, tiny whitebait.
He couldn’t wait, he said,
to see his young bride resurface.

That’s what I may have heard
that muffled third day. Me,
now crazed, splintering,
daubing hived flesh where once
my auricles had been. Then dusk

a sense of him at the bathroom door.
I begged My Beloved to carry me
to the loch shore
and leave my gills in the rinsing tide.

And My Beloved did.
And as it swallowed my head, my eyes descaled.
Forever battened bare

to the pen in which he’d lovingly placed me.
The barbs with which he snares me, daily.


Mhairi Owens